As she has done three previous times, Maycey Vieta ended her season Feb. 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton at a spot near the top of the awards podium.

The 2017 Division I state girls diving champion finished as state runner-up for the second consecutive season by scoring 474.4 points to finish behind Cincinnati West Clermont's Morgan Southall (479.55).

Vieta, a Gahanna Lincoln High School senior who placed fourth at state as a freshman, learned long ago the type of mental toughness needed to succeed at the state swimming and diving meet.

"You've got to go into every single meet with confidence," Vieta said. "You've got to trust yourself, trust the board. ... I've got to continue to show that I can go in there and show everybody that I'm capable of doing well and doing my best."

Vieta has been competing for the Ohio State diving club for several years but decided she "wanted something different, something away from home," and committed to compete for Purdue.

In her final prep competition, Vieta scored 145.05 points on her final three dives in the championship round while Southall scored 141.25 during that same sequence, but it wasn't enough to top the overall day by Southall.

"I'm really proud of what Maycey did (at state)," diving coach Jill McInerney said. "It was a tough meet with a strong field of divers and she gave it her best shot. I know the result isn't what she was hoping for, but she still did great and had a fantastic career."

Vieta's performance helped the Lions tie for 30th (17 points) behind champion Mason (204) as 55 teams scored at the state meet, which continued with swimming preliminaries Feb. 22 and swimming finals Feb. 23.

Also competing for the Lions were freshman Reagan Reetz, who finished 22nd in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 12.09 seconds) after entering state as the 24th and final seed, and the 200 medley relay of freshmen Kendall Hitler and Sami Kiss, senior Lydia Gilger and Reetz that finished 20th (1:48.39) after entering as the 21st seed.

Gilger, who also made it to state on relays in 2016 and '17, was thrilled to get to go back one last time.

"Making the state meet this year was honestly a surprise," Gilger said. "We weren't all together when we figured out we made it, so there were many exciting text messages coming in from all the girls. Being able to go back to the state meet my senior year is really just the icing on the cake, especially because I (got) to experience it with some of the sweetest girls you'll ever meet."

Gilger and Vieta led a seven-member senior class that also included Lina Alli, who reached the district podium with an eighth-place finish in diving (411) on Feb. 14 at Ohio State, and Madison Gibson, who competed on the 400 free relay at district Feb. 15.

Other expected returnees who competed individually at district are sophomores Kendra Dillon (diving), Mackenzie Massmann (100 butterfly) and Ashleigh Provan (diving) and freshman Eloise Fisher (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke). Provan placed fifth at district in diving (473.4) but only the top four advanced to state.

Sophomore Rylee Slisher, who joined Massmann, Gibson and Fisher on the 400 free relay at district, is another expected returnee.

Gilger, who joined Hitler, Kiss and Reetz on the 200 free relay that placed ninth (1:40.41) at district, enjoyed mixing with the young talent coming through the program.

"It's been so incredible getting to swim my last season with (the) three (swimmers who also competed at state)," Gilger said. "I've gotten to watch Kendall and Sami grow up. It's been an absolute joy swimming with our fourth member, Reagan, as well this season. Her love and dedication for the sport of swimming (helped create) such a fresh and encouraging atmosphere for the Lions."

Most of boys swim team to return

Of the five seniors on the boys swimming and diving team, four competed in the Division I district meet Feb. 15.

The 400 free relay of seniors Jacob Sherman and Logan Marks, junior Johnny Belli and sophomore Nathan Vogelgesang reached the podium with an eighth-place finish (3:16.89), senior Casey Jordan competed in diving, senior Austin Wharton competed in the 500 free and Marks competed in the 50 free and 100 free.

Belli, who placed 11th in the 100 backstroke (53.8) and 13th in the 100 fly (53.43) at district, is expected to lead the group of returnees next year.

Junior Derek Yu (100 breast) and sophomores Caleb Gilger (100 back) and McCord Riegler (200 IM, 100 breast) are other district qualifiers who are eligible to return.

The only senior on the 200 free relay that placed ninth at district (1:29.16) was Marks. He was joined on the relay by Belli, Riegler and Vogelgesang.

Six wrestlers advance to district tourney

Six members of the wrestling team will compete in the Division I district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.

On Feb. 23 in a 10-team sectional at Watkins Memorial, the Lions finished fifth (149.5 points) behind champion Westerville North (240).

Cristian Salazar (113 pounds) and Charles Williams (120) captured sectional titles, Juan Porras (126) and Nate Garbark (195) placed second, Dylan Kankiewicz (152) was third and Carter Person (106) placed fourth as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district.

Also placing were Paulo Dragin (fifth, 160), Patrick Christie (sixth, 132) and Torian Rachel (sixth, 145).

At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State.

Girls basketball team advances in tourney

With a 75-14 victory Feb. 22 over 41st-seeded Franklin Heights, the eighth-seeded girls basketball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal Feb. 27 against third-seeded Dublin Coffman.

The semifinal winner plays sixth-seeded Westerville South, 14th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley, 15th-seeded Thomas Worthington or 30th-seeded Walnut Ridge in a district final Saturday, March 2, at Ohio Dominican.

The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Tuesday, March 5, at Otterbein, with that winner playing for a regional title March 8 at the same site.

Gahanna improved to 17-7 with the win over Franklin Heights as Constance Scott had 26 points and Alex VanHorssen scored 12.

"I like what I've been seeing," coach Ron Bailey said. "We've been playing with a lot of energy and sharing the basketball. We had that tough stretch (late in the regular season and have been) just trying to get back in the groove."

Boys basketball team begins tourney play

The 15th-seeded boys basketball team defeated 30th-seeded Dublin Scioto 62-53 on Feb. 23 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

The Lions improved to 15-8 and will play host to 26th-seeded Big Walnut in a second-round game Friday, March 1, with the winner facing third-seeded Pickerington Central or 44th-seeded Columbus West in a district semifinal Wednesday, March 6. The district final is March 9 at Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Big Walnut enters the postseason with a 14-8 record and having won six of its last eight games.

Last season, the Lions ended the Golden Eagles' season with a 77-55 victory in a first-round game as Elijah Thomas had 19 points. Junior forward Kegan Hienton, who is averaging 15 points, scored 15 to lead Big Walnut.

Against Scioto, Sean Jones had 19 points, Thomas scored 16 and Maceo Williams added 12 for the Lions.

Bowlers move on to district level

The boys and girls bowling teams will compete in the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.

At sectionals held at HP Lanes, the girls team finished fifth (3,353) of 37 teams Feb. 22 behind champion Westerville Central (3,777) and the boys placed 13th (3,718) of 42 teams Feb. 23 behind champion Marion Harding (4,327).

Taylor Burns led the girls team by tying for 19th (522 three-game series) and Lilu Smith finished 23rd (520).

Deandre Quiero finished 28th (599) at sectional to lead the boys team and Dalton Carraro was 71st (529).

At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 8 (girls) and March 9 (boys) at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek